Dealing with Heartache and Emotional Pain? Here’s Relief!
I can relate with hurts of different version because have been there where the one you love says she had enough of you, where you family says or act hurtfully towards you and you are wondering why me or when it seems all the world is against you and it hurts so bad that you feel like ending it. My dear hurt feelings are like pain that happen suddenly and we all have them. My dear if I say its easy, it’s a lie because there are times I feel why me and why all this is happening to me? Hurty feelings?! They come in all shapes and sizes. They can come suddenly like a cloud and bring the rain or build up slowly and then consume us like a tornado. They can be so powerful that they can make us lose complete perspective of our reality. You find out that someone you thought was a good friend has been talking about you behind your back. You feel betrayed. Hurt feelings show up. You’re having dinner with your girlfriend, wife and she says she wants more space and wants to date other men. What?! Why should be you the question comes up but the truth is, we all at one point in time have experienced it.
Wouldn’t life be so much easier without hurt feelings? Well, maybe. But I believe that hurt feelings can also provide a powerful opportunity for self-awareness and healing. If outer reality is a reflection of inner reality, then when hurt feelings show up, we can take the opportunity to ask ourselves what has been suppressed and unexpressed. If in my outer world there is something that produces hurt and pain, then there must be something inside me that is still unresolved. The question then becomes what to do with hurt feelings when they show up, and what can we learn from them. The theme of this blog series and of my new book is how to use everything that life puts on our path as a way to unbind our hearts. Hurt feelings can then serve as a tunnel, through which we can come to the other side to the freedom of our heart.
Research has discovered that we experience emotional pain as physical pain. This means that when you are experiencing heartache, your heart actually does hurt – well, perhaps not your heart, but something in your body does hurt, and badly. You know this already, because when you feel heartache or anxiety or frustration, it hurts.
In my practice I have noticed people often have a very low tolerance for the pain of heartache – they want to make it go away as fast as possible. And this is understandable. When you have a headache, you want to take an aspirin; and if your body hurts, you want to rest, sleep or go to the doctor to find out what’s wrong.
It’s true – physical pain often does indicate something is wrong with our bodies. Emotional pain is different however, even if we experience it physically. The best way to deal with emotional pain is to feel it, without making it better, because great gifts are on the other side of feeling that pain.
In order to understand exactly what I mean, let’s first look at how we behave when we are in pain.
Since physical pain is indication of something gone wrong in the body, you might feel some anxiety or worry about having the pain. You may wonder if you are OK. You want the pain to stop, wonder if and when it will stop, and try to make a plan for how to end it.
Same thing happens with emotional pain. You may feel heartbreak or loneliness or even frustration and wonder if you are going to be OK. You feel anxiety about the pain and wonder if the pain will ever stop and if you are going to survive it.
Do you want help dealing with your heartache or emotional pain? I can support and guide you in both learning how to tolerate your pain, but also in reducing it effectively.
The interesting thing is that you do survive it, every time.
Think about the last time you felt emotional pain.
Perhaps the last time was about a second ago, or perhaps a fairly long time, regardless, put yourself back there for a moment. Now let me ask you a question. Was your body OK while you were feeling that pain? Were any parts of you bleeding or falling off? Were you able to feel emotional pain, but still go to the bathroom, walk and talk?
Emotional pain is not like physical pain. It can be debilitating in that it can take away your desire to do things such as eat, walk, talk, function, but it does not prevent you from actually doing those things. While physical pain is sometimes a signal that something is very wrong, this is not exactly the case with emotional pain. That is why you do not need to be afraid of emotional pain. It is not going to kill you. It is not going to cripple you. It is not going to blind you. It does hurt, but with no real harm to your body.
Emotional pain is different from physical pain in another way. Physical pain often needs outside intervention to make it go away. You may need to take a pain reliever, change your diet, go see a doctor, have an operation, bandage the hurt part, etc. Emotional pain will go away if you feel it. Often you have to do nothing else. But if you do not feel, it can linger for a lifetime while you take many actions to avoid feeling it.
This means that when you feel anxiety about feeling heartache, and worry about how you are going to make it go away, and try to make plans about how you are going to alter circumstances and situations and people so that you stop feeling pain, stop. Remind yourself that nothing bad will happen if you feel pain, and it will subside after you allow yourself to feel it. You don’t need to do anything to deal with emotional pain. Instead, you need to be with it.
Deal with emotional pain by delving into it, making friends with it, feeling it until it stops and you are on the other end of it. If you able to do this, there will be gold on the other end.
Here is the gold at the end of emotional pain. Imagine the freedom you would have if you were no longer afraid of feeling emotional pain. If you were single you might be willing to get out there and date more, because you would know you could tolerate the pain of rejection and the pain of not meeting the right person. Or perhaps you would choose to be single and happy, knowing that you could tolerate the pain of loneliness.
If you were in a relationship that wasn’t going fast enough you would either be more patient because you knew you could tolerate the pain of waiting, or you would get out because you knew that you could tolerate the pain of letting go and being alone.
If you were married or in a long-term relationship, you would perhaps speak up for yourself more because you knew that you could tolerate the pain of your partner’s rejection or his or her displeasure with you. Or perhaps you would get closer to your partner because you knew that you could tolerate the anxiety you feel at allowing someone to get close to you.
If you were going through a breakup or a divorce you could allow the relationship to end because you would know you could tolerate the grief and sorrow of letting go and the temporary loneliness.
Do you see the power you could have over your emotional life if you were able to tolerate emotional pain rather than being afraid of it? It can be truly astounding how much easier and more peaceful life becomes when you are no longer afraid of feeling pain.
It’s true that no one wants to feel emotional pain, but as it is a part of life and unavoidable, better to know that you can tolerate it and get through it than to be afraid of it.
Now for the specifics of how to tolerate emotional pain.
Try the meditation below the next time you are suffering from heartache. But please keep in mind, this is only one tool in the vast set of tools for dealing with emotional pain. Meditation instructions: You can use the meditation once a day, many times a day, or pick a favorite line and use it as constant mantra to help you cope with pain.
Or perhaps use this meditation as a template and create a few lines that fit your circumstances best. Feel free to leave your version below in comments.
Instructions: Read this to yourself slowly and breathe.
Feeling pain in my heart, I breathe in.
Suffering from the pain in my heart, I breathe out.
Feeling my heart breaking, I breathe in.
Feeling as if my heart will break in two, I breathe out.
Feeling the pain is too great to live with, I breathe in.
Feeling as if the pain is going to swallow me up, I breathe out.
Feeling hurt, I breathe in.
Finding hurt where I want love, I breathe out.
Feeling frustration and anger, I breathe in.
Feeling frustration and anger boiling inside, I breathe out.
Wanting things to be different, I breathe in.
Wanting to change him/her, I breathe out.
Wanting attention, I breathe in.
Craving attention, I breathe out.
Wanting gentle touch, I breathe in.
Wanting loving touch, I breathe out.
Feeling I am not good enough, I breathe in.
Seeing nothing good about me, I breath out.
Feeling shame about my body, I breathe in.
Feeling that I am unlovable, I breathe out.
Feeling that no one loves me, I breathe in.
Suffering from not feeling loved, I breathe out.
Feeling frustration, I breathe in.
Feeling fear, I breathe out.
Being afraid that nothing will ever change, I breathe in.
Wanting love in my life, I breathe out.
Feeling fear that I will not have what I want, I breathe in.
Feeling fear and anxiety, I breathe out.
Noticing that I am OK, I breathe in.
Noticing that I am OK, I breathe out.
How do you handle your hurts? Many times we handle hurts in the wrong manner. Lets look at five WRONG ways to handle hurt and then I’ll talk about three RIGHT ways to handle hurt.
I. FIVE WRONG WAYS TO HANDLE HURT
1. IGNORE IT
This is the macho man approach to pain. Just suck it up. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Hope that it will go away. There are several ways we do this:
A. Deny it – That didn’t hurt me. I’m not mad.
B. Delay it – I’ll deal with that later. I don’t get mad I get even.
C. Minimize it – It’s no big deal. It didn’t hurt so bad.
Ignoring your hurt never heals it. You’ve heard it said, “Time heals all wounds” – but sometimes time makes the infection grow worse. Denying it, delaying it, minimizing it turns minor problems into major ones. Wounds get infected and spread when they aren’t dealt with. Look at what Psalm 39 says about trying to ignore hurt.
“I was mute with silence, I held my peace even from good; And my sorrow was stirred up.” Psalms 39:2 (NKJV)
Ignoring our hurt does not work – it makes it worse.
2. RUN FROM IT
This is the Mr. Chicken approach to dealing with hurt. Escape. Retreat. Run as fast as you can. This is human nature. When we feel pain we run. Look at what Psalm 55 says:
“If only I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and find rest. How far away I would flee; I would stay in the wilderness. I would hurry to my shelter from the raging wind and the storm.” Psalms 55:6-8 (HCSB)
When people hurt they run. People run to: television, movies, drugs, shopping, divorce, alcohol, sex, food wherever we can use to find relief. But when we return the problem is still there. Running doesn’t solve it.
3. HIDE IT
Many of us are good at doing this. We wear a mask. We don’t tell anyone we hurt. We are quite good at camouflaging our pain. When someone asks if we are OK we say that everything is fine. We don’t like to admit that someone has hurt our feelings. If we admit that we are hurt we open ourselves up to more hurt – so we hide it.
Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing.
The Bible says:
“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed.” James 5:16
Have you ever felt angry and didn’t want to speak to someone ever again for hurting your feelings? It’s a common scenario: someone says something that’s rude, wrongly accuses us of doing something wrong, or in some other way makes us get reactive or defensive.
This can take us to the point where we most certainly don’t want to wish them well. But does harboring dislike, revenge, even hate, do us any favors? Does it really make us feel better in the long run or does it just get us more stressed?
It’s definitely important that we acknowledge what we are feeling—all the anger, unfairness, and aversion—and really honor how hurt we are. Repressing our feelings means they’ll most likely just come up again at some point, probably when another situation triggers a similar response.
But negative emotions can sap our energy, especially when we hold on to them. And they spread like wildfire, soon affecting our behavior and attitudes towards other people, like a single match that can burn down an entire forest.
And they create an emotional bond with the abuser that keeps our feelings alive, so that we keep replaying the drama and conflict over in our heads, justifying our own behavior and disregarding theirs. In the process we become a not-very-nice person.
Anger, aggression and bitterness are like thieves in the night who steal our ability to love and care. Is it possible to turn that negativity around and chill out so we can wish our abuser well, without necessarily needing to know them as a friend again? This may sound challenging and absurd but it can make life’s difficulties far more tolerable. How can we do this?
- Recognize no one harms another unless they are in pain themselves. Ever noticed how, when you’re in a good mood, it’s hard for you to harm or hurt anything? You may even take the time to get an insect out of the sink. But if you’re stressed or in a bad mood, then how easy it is to wash it down the drain.
- No one can hurt you unless you let them. Hard to believe, as no one actually wants to be hurt but it’s true. When someone hurts us, we are inadvertently letting them have an emotional hold over us. Instead, as spiritual teacher Byron Katie often says: If someone yells at you, let them yell, it makes them happy!
- Respect yourself enough that you want to feel good. Deb did this with her father, an abusive and angry man. She made the decision that she wouldn’t respond to him with negativity, so she turned it around within herself and continued to wish him well. He died recently and Deb was able to feel total closure.
- Consider how you may have contributed to the situation. It’s all too easy to point fingers and blame the perpetrator but no difficulty is entirely one-sided. So contemplate your piece in the dialogue or what you may have done to add fuel to the fire. Even when he feels he is 100 percent right, Ed always looks at a difficulty to see what was his part in it.
- Extend kindness. That doesn’t mean you’re like a doormat that lets others trample all over you while you just lie there and take it. But it does mean letting go of negativity sooner than you might have done before, so that you can replace it with compassion. Like an oyster that may not like that irritating grain of sand in its shell but manages to transform the irritation into a beautiful and precious pearl.
- Meditate. Meditation takes the heat out of things and helps you cool off, so you don’t over react. A daily practice we use is where we focus on a person we may be having difficulty with or is having a difficulty with us. We hold them in our hearts and say: May you be well! May you be happy! May all things go well for you!